MAM

The rise of brand Rohit Sharma

He does not see himself selling or endorsing a product that he doesn’t believe in.

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MUMBAI: He is the only batsman in the world to score double century twice in limited overs, the maximum number of individual sixes (16) in an ODI match and the only captain to win the Indian Premier League (IPL) title thrice. The vice-captain of the Indian cricket team also leads Mumbai Indians (MI) in the IPL. We’re talking of none other than Rohit ‘Superman’ Sharma.

Sharma, who lived in a small suburb in Mumbai and didn't change schools because of financial constraints, today lives in a high-end plush apartment in Worli that costs a whopping Rs 30 crore. But this is not the story about how he became a household name or a prominent player in the Indian cricket team. The hitman has also become a ‘hit’ among leading brands that are willing to splurge millions to sign him as the brand ambassador.

While he makes a pretty decent amount from his cricketing career where he receives an enormous annual salary of Rs 11.5 crore, Sharma draws in an average of over Rs 10 crore annually from brand endorsements. According to industry estimates, his net worth is projected to grow further by approximately 38 per cent by the end of year 2018.

In a career spanning 11 years, Sharma has endorsed brands such as Maggi, Fair and Lovely, Lays, Nissan, energy drink Restless, Nasivion nasal spray, Ceat Tyres, Swiss watches company Hublot, Aristocrat by VIP luggage, Adidas and Oppo mobiles.

While one may think that his brand choices haven't really been wise and astute in the last few years, he gradually seems to be getting a hang of how the game of brand endorsement is played. Only in 2018, he became the brand ambassador for Relispray, Sharp television and recently the mobile accessories brand Conekt. The renowned tire company Ceat also pays him Rs 3 crore every year to put the brand’s sticker on his cricket bat.

Though the quality and level of brands he has been choosing in the last few years have gone up considerably, it is still a long way for him before he can become the favourite of every brand. Currently, Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli seems to be every brand’s go-to person as his brand equity was valued higher than football star Lionel Messi in the Forbes top 10 list of global athletes of 2017 with an estimated value of $14.5 million.

Although the early glamour also pushed Kohli to advocate Pepsi and Fair & Lovely Men in 2011, he eventually decided to move away from these brands in 2017. He refused to renew the contract, saying at the time that he would not ask people to consume something that he himself does not. Kohli said, “Things that I’ve endorsed in the past – I won’t take names — but something that I feel that I don’t connect to anymore. If I myself won’t consume such things, I won’t urge others to consume it just because I’m getting money out of it.”

Following this move by the captain, Sharma too does not see himself selling or endorsing a product that he doesn’t believe in. He says that he is extremely cautious about the brands he endorses. In an interview with Indiantelevision.com, Sharma said, “I am extremely cautious about the brands I associate myself with. I don't want to be selling or getting involved with something that I don't use myself. I genuinely believe in having a connection with a brand that you endorse and if that’s missing, there is no point in selling fake products/ideas to people. 

But how does he really decide on signing a brand or giving it a miss? Says the MI captain, “Whenever I choose to endorse a product, I want my fans and people to experience the product and enjoy it as well. A lot of brands that I have endorsed are used by me and if I don't see any camaraderie between me and the brand, I don't go ahead with the association.”

Lately, newcomer Hardik Pandya is also getting better acceptance in the market than the proven and seasoned Sharma. Pandya is increasingly getting brands despite being new as he is flamboyant, stylish and supports different looks and hairstyles.

The hitman still has a long road and career ahead and his star value is unlikely to dim anytime in the future.

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